Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category
Back to the basics of life.
Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will recall that just under a week ago I published an essay under the title of A bedtime story for mankind. The post centred around an essay from Patrice Ayme. Patrice’s essay could be summarised as follows: “At the present rate of greenhouse gases emissions, within nine years, massively lethal climate and oceanic changes are guaranteed.“
Then just last Sunday, Patrice published a second essay reinforcing that first one. The subsequent essay was called Ten Years to Catastrophe. I was minded to republish that but upon reflection thought that there was a better option. That was to explore the deep, core questions that both of Patrice’s essays raised in my mind and, presumably, must be raised in the minds of countless thousands of others. Questions along the lines of a comment I submitted to that subsequent post from Patrice.
Do you have an idea, even a sense, of when global leaders, elected Governments, the ‘movers and shakers’ in societies, will truly embrace the global catastrophe that is heading our way?
And a supplementary question: What would be the indicators that Governments were acknowledging the task ahead?
Frankly, they weren’t especially good questions but they were an attempt by me to open up a debate on whether or not this is the “beginning of the end” of life for us humans. Central to what was going through my mind was the core question of how did it all go wrong?
On Monday evening, I rang John Hurlburt, a close friend of Jean and me from our Payson, Arizona days and kicked around those questions . It was a most enlightening conversation. John is an active founder member of Transition Town Payson and Payson recently welcomed the Great March for Climate Action in their walk from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. (An essay on that event coming soon.)
Anyway, from out of that conversation with John came the idea of a series of essays here on Learning from Dogs about the past, present and future of man’s relationship with Nature. The aim is to offer an essay on a weekly basis but we’ll see how it goes. Wherever possible, I will use the essays and posts from other bloggers that reinforce the vision. As always, your feedback in the form of ‘Likes’ or comments will reflect on the value of the essays to you.
After John and I finished the call, he sent me an email with what could be best described as his vision for these essays. Here is that email [my emphasis].
Everything fits together. Otherwise, we’d simply be disassociated atoms.
Human beings are a consciously aware component of Nature. We have a DNA-level directive to survive as a species and as individual members of a species …. in that order!
We are consciously aware components of the conscious interaction between energy and matter in a predominently smoothly emerging cyclic universe with departures from time to time into pockets of chaos.
We disconnect from reality when we become self-centered, often during the various stages of our lives. When we are blessed we continue to live and learn.
Issues of ideology, rational thought, economics, politics, religion, history and science become insignificant in comparison to the whelming power of Nature.
Such is life. It comes with the territory. Spirituality, Nature and Science describe the metanexus in which we live.
Maintain an even strain,
an old lamplighter
Ref: Episcopal “Catechism of Creation”
Ideas, feedback and comments, as always, hugely welcomed.
A very suitable set of pictures for today; Easter Sunday.
Thanks to Bob Derham for sending them to me.
From Jean and me and all our animals, our Easter wishes for peace to you all.
Now we are eight!
Dhalia was clearly close to death when Jean and I took her to our vet, Dr. Codd, earlier this morning.
Indeed, she was probably dead when Dr. Codd administered the euthanasia injection. It was 8:45 am.
While there is more I want to write about Dhalia, you’ll appreciate it if that is left for tomorrow’s post and I close this with a couple of photographs.
For those that can’t read the plaque it says, “Heaven. All the dogs that ever loved you will be waiting at the gate.“
Dhalia has taken her last walk!
A most fitting guest essay after yesterday.
The following is published with the kind permission of the author, Jeremy Nathan Marks. I have done a ‘screen grab’ of the image associated with his blog post so you can experience it as you would see and read it from The Sand County. It seemed perfect as a follow-on to yesterday’s post Life, and mortality.
The Sand County
“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” -Henry David Thoreau
My Wish for the World
If I could leave behind but one lasting accomplishment from my life it would be to have changed the hearts and minds of all those people who accept or practice cruelty towards animals.
Now there are a great many worthy causes in this world which fully deserve the attention of all those who believe in justice, in fairness, and in mercy. But I also know that each of us -perhaps- has a cause that stands above and beyond all of the other noble concerns that we know exist. For me this cause is the humane treatment of animals.
And when I say animals I mean ALL animals. Permit me to explain.
My wife and I have two dogs. Both are mutts and both were adopted through the Animal Rescue Foundation of Ontario (ARF). I have blogged about ARF before and can only offer the highest praise for the organization. Courtesy of ARF, we have been provided with free dog training classes which have proved to be an invaluable resource in learning about dog behaviour. Better yet, the dog trainer we have worked with has made herself available for our questions outside of class. Whenever we have encountered a behavioural challenge that we have not understood or have been unsure of a proper method of approach, this trainer has been very obliging. Importantly, she believes in positive reinforcement and does not believe in the use of pain, dominance, or stress as a means of conditioning dogs. For my wife and me, this fits in with our moral beliefs and our ethics.
Our eldest dog, who just turned one year old, is a 60 lbs. shepherd mix who has a “leash anxiety,” if I may call it that. When we are out on a walk and she sees another dog she becomes quite agitated and will bark loudly and lunge at the other dog. This has puzzled us because our dog loves to play with others and is frequently socialized. We grew increasingly concerned because our use of treats and positive reinforcement was not working. And because our dog is a large shepherd, we both have worried that she might develop a reputation and become a source of fear or suspicion by other people in our neighbourhood. In due course, we contacted our trainer for advice.
She suggested that rather than putting our dog in a stressful situation by repeatedly walking her past other dogs (and trying to control her behaviour when she becomes agitated) we should take her out of the situation instead. So, when we see another dog approaching we turn around and walk in a different direction, all the while rewarding our dog with treats and telling her she is a good girl. We have recently started doing so and the improvements are showing.
So, let us fast forward to today. . .
This afternoon we took both of our dogs on a 20 km hike along the Thames River. The trail is like so many other trails; it forms a narrow path through the woods which makes passing other trail goers challenging at points. If another dog were to come toward us this narrowness would pose something of a challenge because we cannot turn around (and head home). Also, because the trail runs through the woods, there aren’t often places to step aside and let other dogs pass by without our oldest detecting them.
Inevitably we encountered another dog. We were approached by a small dog that was off leash (which is posted as unlawful, actually). We heard the dog before we saw it and prepared ourselves for some nervousness on the part of our oldest. When the dog approach some barking ensued and I tried to move our dog, as best I could, off the trail to let the family that was approaching us pass by with their dog. When we informed the family that our dog is uncomfortable around other dogs when she is leashed they did not seem to understand that we wanted them to pass by us quickly. When our eldest became excited one of the women turned to us and said that we should “knee our dog in her side to show her who is dominant.”
I was appalled.
Some woman, whom I have never met, who knows nothing about our dog or our relationship with our dog, was suggesting we use violence against her to show her who is boss. . . And this is a woman with a dog of her own!
My wife later remarked to me, as we were driving home, that she would not feel entitled to the love and affection our dogs offer us if we used violence on them in any way. I thought what she said was beautiful and captured the principle of the matter perfectly. We want our dogs to love us and to trust us. How would we have any right to their love and affection if we were to lead them to believe that -at any moment and for no apparent reason- we might use painful force on them?
Dogs do not understand why you use violence against them. They do not reason or understand cause-and-effect the same way that humans do. This is not a fault. It does not mean they are stupid or of lesser value than human beings. It does not mean they deserve to be treated with cruelty or brutality. Dogs experience violence as pain and suffering that is inflicted out of the blue. They are not only unprepared for it, but are often completely defenceless against it. How could we ever defend such an inhumane practice?
It troubles me immensely that someone, whom I do not know, could so nonchalantly counsel me to violence against my dog. Her arrogant presumption aside, this was a monstrous act. It was barbaric. Nowhere in polite society would someone get away with counseling violence against a child. . . or against someone who is weaker. Yet violence against animals, even against dogs who supposedly occupy a place closer to human hearts than most other animals, is countenanced and even endorsed. (I won’t even begin to explain why the Dog Whisperer horrifies and saddens me.)
If a young child was caught torturing animals we would all raise the alarm. The torture of animals, by a young child, is seen as an early warning sign of severe mental disturbance and has been linked to homicidal tendencies and highly violent behaviour. One of the great villains of American literature, the character Popeye from William Faulkner’s novel Sanctuary is depicted as a torturer of animals in his youth.
Now I know that increasingly there are laws on the books in many nations that are designed to prevent cruelty to animals and to prosecute perpetrators. This is a positive development that I certainly applaud. But I would argue that there is something broader, more troubling in our relationship with animals that goes beyond the bounds of this current posting. It is a topic I will return to time and again at this blog.
What troubles me is how animals are frequently seen as objects if they are even seen or thought of at all. The damage that our destruction of the forests, deserts, plains, and oceans of this world does to countless species is something that has been well documented. We do this because we are interested in acquiring the resources we feel are vital to ensuring our survival. . . but often it is our comfort or our “way of life” that really is the central reason for our pursuit of these things.
There is a deep seated human arrogance which treats animals as inferior forms of life. We see them as less sophisticated because they cannot compete with us for power on this planet. We suffer from what Aldo Leopold called an “Abrahamic view” toward the land. Somewhere biblical “dominion” over nature became domination. This is tragic. And it is not necessary.
I was deeply troubled by what I experienced today and it reminded me that if I could leave behind but one lasting accomplishment it would be to somehow awaken a sense of love, of mercy, and a thirst for justice where the animal life on this planet is concerned.
Just imagine what realizing that love would really mean. By achieving a love that transcends the will to power, the will to control, and the will to domination our embrace of animals really is, after all, the achievement of that revelatory love that is at the heart of the great religions and the religious spirit. Love for animals is love for justice and mercy. It is reverence for life. And it is peace.
I think Henry Beston captures these sentiments beautifully:
“Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate in having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” -from The Outermost House, by Henry Beston (quoted from Farley Mowat’s A Whale For The Killing)
I’m sure you will join me in thanking Jeremy for writing such a beautiful and heart-felt essay.
Possibly the most important lesson we can learn from dogs!
I was aware when writing the concluding part of Meet the dogs – Pharaoh that the next day I would be faced with writing about a subject that is a whole degree more difficult. Death!
It must have been in my mind when I wrote “of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.“
What has prompted today’s post?
Simply that Dhalia developed a limp in her front, right-hand, leg. That was a few weeks ago. Naturally, we took her to our local vet, Dr. Codd, who diagnosed a strained elbow joint probably as a result of arthritis; Dhalia is believed to be ten-years-old. With the recommended medication, the limp came to an end.
Then about two weeks ago, the elbow weakness appeared in her left-hand, front leg.
On Monday, we returned to Dr. Codd who took further X-rays and sought a second opinion. That second opinion came back with the probability that it was a “osteoproliferative neoplastic lesion” or bone cancer to you and me! It’s not one-hundred-per-cent certain but likely.
It only seemed like yesterday that Jean wrote about Dhalia in our ‘Meet the dogs’ series. That post included this photograph.
Jean is very sad, as one would expect, nay we both are. Dhalia, like Hazel and some of the other dogs here at home, has a loving openness towards humans that is truly remarkable when one learns of how these dogs came to be rescued: Dhalia being found by Jean living rough in a desolate part of a Mexican desert. This is what Jean wrote in that ‘Meet the dogs‘ account:
I named her Dhalia and after treatments for mange she became quite beautiful. She was the pivotal part of a short story, Messages from the Night, Paul wrote back in 2011. Under her sweet exterior remains that same will to survive so evident when I rescued her all those years ago. There has been more than one occasion that she has brought me a recently killed squirrel or an ancient bone. We love our Dhalia: she still reaches out with her front paw when she seeks attention. Dhalia will be ten-years-old this year.
Somehow, Dhalia’s possible last few weeks of life resonated with much else going on. Close to us, the recent death of a chicken, and one of our cats that does not have much longer to live. In the wider world, the Washington State mud-slide, flight MH370, and the Ukraine. The news media treat death as almost a trivial, incidental part of the scheme of things.
Prayer for an eagle
Please say a prayer for beautiful bald eagle who just died a death he did not deserve.
He was stuck on the ground near a concrete barrier on a stretch of interstate under construction in Arkansas. I spotted him with his head down, facing into the traffic that was passing a foot away from him.
He was an adult bald eagle-big and brave, facing down the oncoming 18 wheelers.
There was no place to pull off, concrete barriers on both sides, so I went to the next exit and backtracked. My adrenaline was rushing in horror and fear. My plan was just to stop and block traffic, and pick him up. But he had been killed by the time I got back to him three or four minutes later.
I failed that bird.
I hope he is circling over the lakes and trees he loves.
Back to learning about death from our dogs.
Dhalia’s possible terminal condition; my Pharaoh being the age he is; somewhere in there has come the recognition that we should embrace life yet also embrace our mortality; our death. As Leonardo da Vinci was reputed to have said, “While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.“
What does death mean; truly mean? I don’t know. All I know is that death is the end of a life. That our immortality is only an echo, a reverberation of who we were and what we stood for. Or no better put than by American lawyer, Albert Pike, who left these words before he died on April 2nd, 1891 (Yes, I looked it up!)
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us;
what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
Last thought from our dogs. Recall that yesterday, I wrote, “Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.“
Day in, day out, anyone with dogs in their lives know how often they offer us simple acts of love.
A life of simple acts of love – now that does give death a meaning!
Just stop whatever you are doing for fewer than four minutes …
… watch this in full screen mode.
You will not be disappointed,
Do we chose love over fear?
On the 24th January this year, I published a post called 20:20 self-awareness. To save you clicking the link and returning to that post, the essence was speaking clearly; not only to others but to ourselves. I quoted George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Then went on to write:
Yet, what we hear and what we say are both modified, frequently unconsciously, by past events, experiences and trauma. That being the case, then it is key, critically so, that we achieve the best possible self-awareness. Because it is only through an understanding of our past that we come to learn of our sensitivities and our associated ‘tender spots’ and their potential for ‘pulling our strings’.
Closing the post by including a twenty-minute, documentary film about fear. (Here it is again for those that missed it.)
One of the comments to that post was from Sue who writes the blog Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary. (It’s a beautiful blog, by the way.)
This was the comment left by Sue.
Fear is inherent in us all for that Flight or Fight mode.. But the F word has now been used and abused as it has been used as a useful tool .. Self awareness comes when we wake up to what our world is generating and we have a choice. We can allow ourselves to get embroiled within the Fear.. Or we can see it for what it is and who and what is creating that fear and why?…. Once that awareness kicks in we can see there is nothing to Fear but Fear itself… Living in the Now of a moment prevents us also from fearing the future, and fearing what has passed..
Easier said than done, I guarantee you .. But once you can get your head around it all… We breathe deeper and evenly and let all fear go… ( I am still working on this, I am not perfect by any means ) for as your video states its been ingrained within us for so long we know no other way, and we are a creature of habit!..
Thought provoking post, Paul thank you
Sue then pointed me to one of her essays, that I have the great pleasure of republishing today.
Do You Chose Love Over Fear?
Remember those Prophesies of “2012”? I posted many of my thoughts upon this timeline which I thought was to mark the end of one era and the beginning of the Next – Maybe those ancients teachers didn’t know whether we would rise or fall as they marked the end of their calendar.
Maybe that fate awaits us still depending upon our choices we make in the Now dependant upon our Next actions! But as we read through those teachings of ancient prophecy you will see also they speak of transformation. Transformation requires Change, and we are being urged now to Think! Think outside our boxes as our comfort zones are now being tweaked as we become ever more sensitive to the Energy Shifts within our World.
Whether we realise it or not we are incarnated with a ‘Soul Mission’ even though we caught amnesia after we were born. But more and more of us are thankfully waking up as we begin to remember who we are. It may have taken many life times and lessons to align with our present purpose as we pass through various stages on our journey, often not understanding the reasons for painful events and experiences. It isn’t until later that we look back and see the gifts and healing which were given to us and that through them we learn to grow, letting go of the past as we step into the Now.
Giving Birth is not without pain, and our new earth is only now going through her own birthing pains. We see it in the spasms of conflict, the wars, hunger, poverty, displacement of refugees and the destruction through pollution of Mother nature. Pains which are now being experienced which we humans have carried with us over many life times. Pains that emerge as a build-up of our Fear and Prejudices.
The choices are simple: we either choose Fear or Love.
Even while writing this a sense of peace has swept over me as I smile to myself. I recently read an article which said “…we incarnate with these wounds and at a soul-level choose to encounter those whose actions catalyse us to resolve and heal our soul wounding“. That made me smile even wider as I have long held the belief that our enemies are our greatest teachers helping serve our soul’s growth as we learn the various lessons such as patience, kindness, love, forgiveness, and compassion.
We are each of us now experiencing shifts in our emotions and lives, as we feel the ‘Shift’ in energy within our Mother Earth who is calling us to wake up and remember who we are; as our vibrations alter.
When I first started my blog back in 2007 I stumbled almost by accident to the opening post. But it was no accident! In fact my very first post was an experiment called Smile. I wanted to make a difference even if it was only through the words of a poem.
As we ‘Lighten Up’, letting go of what we no longer need, we lift our vibration higher; as we leave behind the wounds of the past. We are Energy Beings – and it’s time now to realise we each are a part of the Whole, that Oneness that permeates all things with the same Energy.
We are now ‘Shifting’ from duality to Unity Consciousness. This was brought home again to me on how many of us are thinking similar thoughts even here on WordPress. We see similar themes as we link into the Mass Consciousness, as we join together our thoughts, as we link subconsciously to the Cosmic web of thoughts.
We need to be aware of the Power of our thoughts and how we can assist in raising our planet’s vibration and our own collective Consciousness.
Much has been spoken upon The Ascension. First we need to ascend through our own layers as we climb ever higher, leaving behind the things that no longer serve us.
We do that by not getting swept up in conflict, by being more loving and tolerant, by being compassionate rather than being judgmental holding hate and anger.
We need to put the Care back in the world. If we embrace and choose Love over fear and stop looking who to blame but start to set examples of living in harmony and unity, then the true magnificence of who we really are can begin to manifest that ‘Golden Age’ that was once prophesied to bring about Peace.
It is up to each one of us to pledge to change our own lives, because only that way will those prophesies come to fruition.
The Choice is Ours
Love and Gratitude
The most important thing we must learn from dogs.